Company offers to give money for rink

March 20, 1995|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

A Westminster business plans to donate money for a community ice rink.

The business owners offered to pay the estimated $7,000 cost after learning that the City Council was considering buying a rink that could be placed on ball fields in the winter and stored in the summer.

The owners said they preferred to withhold their names until the gift is formally announced.

The rink may attract customers such as:

* Karen Dalton, 16, who lives near Berrett. The South Carroll High School junior enjoyed her first time skating, at Frederick Sport and Ice Arena. She would like to do it again.

* City Councilman Stephen R. Chapin Sr., 53, who said he hasn't been on ice skates in years, "but I love to skate." He said his wife, Nancy, and daughter Wendy also like to skate, so it would be a family activity.

The idea already has generated calls to council members from people who would like a place to skate locally. The County Commissioners rejected a proposed rink near Sandymount Elementary School last year, and the City Council barred skating on a city-owned pond in Eden Farms subdivision two years ago.

Mr. Chapin said he would support the rink if city staff members' research revealed no liability insurance problems.

Councilman Damian L. Halstad, a lawyer, said liability always is a concern. But, he said, "My guess is that it's not going to present a problem."

Other council members also endorsed the proposal.

Rinks have been discussed through the years, and the most recent proposal came from an ice hockey fan on the city staff. Planning Director Thomas B. Beyard was reading a hockey newsletter and saw an advertisement for a temporary rink that could be assembled and dismantled easily.

City Recreation Supervisor Ronald J. Schroers obtained more information and learned, "There are only two requirements, flat ground and water. Well, we've got that."

Mr. Schroers said temperature charts indicate that such a rink could be used in Westminster about 50 days a year. He plans to open the rink Jan. 2. It would remain open through February.

He plans to charge an admission fee to amortize the purchase cost, a plan that may change because of the business owners' donation. The recreation director said he would cover operating costs by running a concession stand. He does not plan to rent skates.

The rink will "absolutely not" damage ball fields, said William G. Burley, owner of Burley's Rink Supply Inc., the manufacturer. "If anything, this product will protect the grass from severe freezing."

The base of the rink is a specially designed polyethylene, and the 4-inch-high walls are made of a foam that doesn't absorb water. Mr. Burley said the rink can be assembled without tools, and the operator should build the ice in layers.

Mr. Schroers said he wasn't sure if the temporary rink would be better than flooding tennis courts, as some New England towns do.

But Mr. Burley had an answer: Pigmented surfaces (such as tennis courts) absorb heat from the sun, causing ice to melt. All parts of his rink are white, which doesn't absorb heat. He said the kit includes a cover similar to a pool cover that helps maintain the ice.

"We saw last year, at 42 degrees, there must have been hundreds of people skating," Mr. Burley said. He said his company has installed rinks in Mexico and South America.

The rink that Westminster officials are considering would be 80 by 192 feet, about the size of a regulation hockey rink. Mr. Schroers said he is waiting to assess interest in hockey before deciding on forming a league.

The recreation supervisor said he doesn't know how to ice skate, "but I bet I can learn."

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